San Jose State students who flunk remedial English or math won’t be able to retake the course at the university. There’s no money in the budget for repeat remedial students, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Opponents of the new policy say it will hurt those who are already struggling: the low-income and ill-prepared students who fill remedial classrooms.
“I worry that if they can’t afford it, they won’t come back. They’ll drop out,” said professor Stefan Frazier, who teaches remedial writing classes. While some students fail because they don’t study hard enough, others need an extra semester of review because they were ill-prepared in high school, he said.
San Jose State and other California State University campuses draw from the top third of graduates in the state based on an index of grades and test scores. Yet, due to rampant grade inflation, more than half of first-year students require remediation. San Diego State, a desireable and crowded campus, cut all remedial classes years ago, requiring students to co-enroll at a community college. At San Jose State, one third to one half of students who take remedial English in the fall need to try again in the spring; fewer students fail remedial math.
Sending students to community colleges, which specialize in remediation, makes sense for university budgets and for students’ budgets. Those who aren’t ready to handle college English or math will spend a lot less money catching up at a community college. If word filters down that remedial chances are limited, perhaps more students will do the work in high school.
Way too many students are unprepared for college, writes Education Gadfly’s Checker Finn in a push for national standards.
Besides the on-campus challenges they will encounter, they begin with the handicap of a high-school diploma that signifies “time spent” and “courses taken” but not “skills and knowledge acquired.” Studies by ACT have shown that fewer than one-fourth of high-school graduates who take that organization’s tests–presumably because they intend to go to college–are academically prepared for college-level work in English, math and science.
CSU students typically earned B’s in high school in college-prep courses. If they’d known they needed to do more to prepare to earn a college degree, they might have worked harder or smarter. Or changed their aspirations.